Former Providence mayor Buddy Cianci dies at 74

Buddy Cianci, dead at 74

Two-time former mayor of Providence, Vincent ‘Buddy’ Cianci, died Thursday morning at 74 of colon cancer, according to the Providence Journal. He was rushed to Miriam Hospital due to stomach pains he was experiencing Wednesday night.

Cianci’s legacy is quite muddled; while he is often credited with the economic transformation seen in Providence in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which birthed a commercial boom marked most notably by the Providence Place Mall and Waterfire, he was also removed twice from office on felony charges and faced rape accusations.

Felon or not, Buddy has been a relevant figure in the College Hill community for decades. He’s taken selfies with our staffers, sent in pictures of his breakfast, and dealt with drunk bloggers attending his campaign events. Another fun fact is that he had his own line of pasta sauces, which may not have been terribly profitable but were somehow displayed in the window of a Cartier store on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Mayor Jorge Elorza, who defeated Buddy’s mayoral campaign in 2014, has ordered that flags in Providence be flown at half-staff, and said that arrangements are being made to memorialize Cianci.

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Meet your .5 Commencement speakers!

This Saturday, 119 students will finish their Brown careers. The “Midyear Completion Celebration” will honor those we colloquially call “.5ers” with a small ceremony taking place in Sayles. As is tradition for Spring Commencement, two soon-to-be-graduates were chosen to speak at the ceremony. BlogDH caught up with Bee Vang and Adrienne Tran on why they decided to .5 and what they plan on saying to their fellow graduates. You can watch a livestream of the ceremony on December 5 @ 4 p.m. here.

Adrienne Tran (right)

Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Concentration: Independent Concentration in Computer Science and Development
Most likely to be found: in the CIT

Bee Vang (left)

Hometown: Twin Cities, MN
Concentration: Independent Concentration in Geopolitical Epistemologies
Most likely to be found in: a Starbucks

Why did you decide to .5? Both of you took three semesters off?

Adrienne: Yeah. I was studying Computer Science, and I felt like there is an element of it I was missing– how computer science could be applied to real world problems. I followed a professor to Australia who was doing work in modeling disaster evacuations and applying computer algorithms to how you could create this optimal plan. So I left because I wanted to do research with him.

Bee: I guess I just wanted real world experiences, and I wasn’t too satisfied at the time with what I was studying. I just needed time away from Brown. I worked for several NGOs, went overseas and did some research. I had a chance to professionally develop myself before going back to Brown, and graduating with a degree that I originally didn’t know what to do with it. That’s sort of why went on leave. I thought I was only going to take one semester, then I decided I would take another year off just to work in New York.

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Know your Lecture Board candidates: Opal Tometi, Alicia Garza, and Patrisse Cullors

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From left to right: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi

In July 2013, George Zimmerman was acquitted from the charge of second-degree murder of 17 year-old Treyvon Martin. In response, Alicia Garza, an organizer and special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, took to her Facebook page to write a “love letter” to the black community, and a plea for all to recognize that “black lives matter.” Her friend, Patrisse Cullors, head of an advocacy organization for incarcerated people, repeated the phrase from her own social media accounts, adding a hashtag.

Opal Tometi, executive director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration, remembers reading Garza’s post after leaving a screening of Fruitvale Station and hearing that Zimmerman had been acquitted:  “Within this formation Alicia basically said, ‘Hey, we need to come together to understand this moment and provide some shared guidance, a reading, as well as a call to action for our people.’ Black Lives Matter is how she’d been talking about it. That really resonated with me.”

Together, the three women made #BlackLivesMatter a national mantra, dubbed by many the start of a second civil-rights movement. While the hashtag began as a way to promote demonstrations and rallies around the country in response to police brutality against black individuals, today Black Lives Matter is an organization with 26 national chapters. “Rooted in the experiences of Black people in this country who actively resist our de-humanization, #BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society” reads the organization’s website.

Although the movement began in response to the issues of police brutality, today Black Lives Matter is fighting for a greater cause, that “goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes.” Garza describes the organization and phrase as, “an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.  It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”

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Vote for your next Lecture Board speaker preference!

Brown Lecture Board has given us a very fun responsibility: to present our campus with their amazing options of speakers for them to bring next to Brown. For the next week, we’ll be profiling one of the six options every day, in case you need a little help in deciding who to cast your vote for. Lecture Board will pursue speakers in the order of the results from this poll, which will be open via Google Form until November 29th. You need @brown.edu email to vote, and can only do so once, so pick carefully!

The options are:

  • Viola Davis, actress
  • Toni Morrison, writer
  • Brandon Stanton, Humans of New York creator
  • Skype Conversation with Edward Snowden
  • Opal Tometi, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Fred Armisen, comedian/actor

You can access the poll here, and find our first profile on the site tomorrow!

Note: Lecture Board may not be able to host the speakers on this poll, given potential scheduling conflicts and availability issues.

Image via Albie Brown ’16.


Visiting Latinx student reports assault by DPS officer; Paxson and Latinx community respond

Around 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning outside Machado House, a senior delegate for this weekend’s Latinx Ivy League Conference was reportedly verbally harassed by two Department of Public Safety officers and then physically assaulted by one of the officers. Geovanni Cuevas, the student in question, was visiting from Dartmouth University and was staying in Machado House with a friend.

As a result of Cuevas’ experience, the Latinx Conference attendees cancelled planned events and discussions, and instead arranged an open meeting with President Christina Paxson P’19 and Mark Porter, Chief of Police for the Department of Public Safety. Following this meeting, both Russell Carey and President Paxson sent emails to the Brown community last night acknowledging the incident. Today, the Latinx Council convened again to discuss Paxson’s written plan for the University’s repsonse.

The meeting Saturday afternoon began at 1 p.m, with Paxson, Porter and Latinx delegates and supporters gathered in a crowded classroom in Salomon. Delegates formally presented Paxson with a list of demands to create a safe campus for students of color.

Paxson began by stating, “This will mainly be a time for listening, at least on my part.” Cuevas then gave the room his account of the incident outside Machado, explaining that he was “outside of the Machado party when a drunk student, stumbled outside.” Cuevas explained that the student “was confronted with flashlights and inappropriate touching” by the two DPS officers securing the event, “to which I had a very visceral response and said, ‘Hey, that’s inappropriate, you shouldn’t touch him like that.'”

The two officers then approached Cuevas and “proceeded to tell me that I was trespassing, despite the fact that I was a guest, hosted in that very house. As the situation escalated, I saw that my friends were uncomfortable, so I removed myself, but they told me I couldn’t come back to the house where I was being hosted. Obviously, I said that’s not going to happen, I’m sleeping here.”

When Cuevas went back in to the party through the back door, and went downstairs to find his host, he recalls that he “caught the attention of the security guard who was there.”  “Before I could even utter a sentence, I was grabbed, thrown up against the wall, thrown to the floor, told I was resisting when I wasn’t, scrapped on my face, told I was going to get pepper-sprayed,” he explained. “I was handcuffed and taken outside Machado, and detained there, until Brown students could come and verify my identity.”

Delegates of the Latinx Ivy League Conference then explained that the goal of their conference is “to empower the Latino students who have overcome cultural and structural challenges to attend Ivy League institutions.” Every year, around 80 students from these universities congregate to discuss “difficult topics that include race, gender, and socioeconomic factors effecting the Latino community in the United States.” However, the delegates had suspended the discussion of this year’s theme, Unity through Generations: the Past, Present and Future of Latino Leadership, to instead draft a list of demands for President Paxson.

“One of our delegates suffered violence at the hands of law enforcement hired by Brown. This incident recalls a longer history of institutionalized violence against communities of color,” said one Latinx delegate. The demands for President Paxson included:

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Students organize Blackout at Brown and teach-in in solidarity with Mizzou

A few hundred students, dressed mostly in black, stood by the Van Wickle Gates at noon today to take a photo to show solidarity and support for Black students at the University of Missouri. Attendees remained huddled, some under umbrellas, to listen as several Black students, one by one, took to a megaphone to share their stories. They spoke about the institutional racism they had personally experienced, about the University’s refusal to value their existence and acknowledge their identities, and called for institutional changes to prevent future traumas and actualize equality on campus.

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Many students spoke about their own experiences with racism in the classroom. A first-year spoke about being in an MCM class in which the professor, after quoting a text, repeatedly used the n-word to refer to Black bodies. “It happened five times before I had to walk out,” he said. After tweeting about the incident, the student has met several times with school administrators, and said his professor sent out an email acknowledging her use of language. “But it wasn’t an apology. It was an excuse.”

Another student expressed frustration with having to continually meet with administrators about the perpetuation of institutional racism by faculty members. “I’m here because I’m tired,” they said. “I haven’t done schoolwork in months, but I’m meeting with administrators.” Others elaborated on the discomfort that many Black students feel in classrooms with professors that have made racially charged comments or have criticized the work of activists on campus. “Ken Miller, David Josephson, Ariella Azoulay, Glenn Loury — these people aren’t being punished, but we are.”

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In reference to the email sent by President Christina Paxson P’19 and Richard Locke, one student asked, “Why did they all of the sudden send out that e-mail after Mizzou and Yale?” The letter, titled “Promoting a Diverse, Inclusive Academic Community,” was sent this Tuesday to the community. “Are they scared [of losing their jobs]?” the student continued. “They should be. I’m very tired of institutional racism. If it doesn’t stop, if free speech isn’t removed from this discussion, she should be afraid.” Another student added, “I just want to say that our humanity is not up for debate.” One speaker pointed out that it took a year for the University to put a “Do not touch” sign in front of the only slavery memorial on campus, although “white children played on it the day after it was put up.”

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